• Blog Archive

    by Published on 26th May 2010 01:47 PM

    Rachel Maddow reports on the shameful banning of chicken suits in Nevada. This is wrong on so many levels

    by Published on 12th June 2009 06:19 PM

    NASA Envisions "Clean Energy" From Algae Grown in Waste Water. An ingenious solution to many problems, from space research bags

    NASA: "Clean Energy" From Algae Grown in Waste Water

    Plastic bags with semi-permeable membranes allow fresh water to flow out into the ocean, while retaining the algae and nutrients.

    Plastic bags with ...
    by Published on 5th March 2009 01:03 PM

    Fascinating reading about sources of thought and memory in physical body brain1

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    by Published on 14th July 2009 05:18 AM

    Interesting book review with a fresh look at our evolutionary past. Contributed by my friend and editor, Frank DeMarco of www.hologrambooks.com ape cook

    Why Are Humans Different From All Other Apes?

    It's The Cooking, Stupid


    New York Times

    May 26, 2009


    How Cooking Made Us Human

    By Richard Wrangham

    309 pages. Basic Books. $26.95

    Human beings are not obviously equipped to be nature's

    gladiators. We have no claws, no armor. That we eat meat

    seems surprising, because we are not made for chewing it

    uncooked in the wild. Our jaws are weak; our teeth are

    blunt; our mouths are small. That thing below our noses?

    It truly is a pie hole.

    To attend to these facts, for some people, is to plead

    for vegetarianism or for a raw-food diet. We should

    forage and eat the way our long-ago ancestors surely

    did. For Richard Wrangham, a professor of biological

    anthropology at Harvard and the author of "Catching

    Fire," however, these facts and others demonstrate

    something quite different. They help prove that we are,

    as he vividly puts it, "the cooking apes, the creatures

    of the flame."

    The title of Mr. Wrangham's new book - "Catching Fire:

    How Cooking Made Us Human" - sounds a bit touchy-feely.

    Perhaps, you think, he has written a meditation on

    hearth and fellow feeling and s'mores. He has not.

    "Catching Fire" is a plain-spoken and thoroughly

    gripping scientific essay that presents nothing less

    than a new theory of human evolution, one he calls "the

    cooking hypothesis," one that Darwin (among others)

    simply missed.

    Apes began to morph into humans, and the species Homo

    erectus emerged some two million years ago, Mr. Wrangham

    argues, for one fundamental reason: We learned to tame

    fire and heat our food.

    "Cooked food does many familiar things," he observes.

    "It makes our food safer, creates rich and delicious

    tastes and reduces spoilage. Heating can allow us to

    open, cut or mash tough foods. But none of these

    advantages is as important as a little-appreciated

    aspect: cooking increases the amount of energy our

    bodies obtain from food."

    He continues: "The extra energy gave the first cooks

    biological advantages. They survived and reproduced

    better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies

    responded by biologically adapting to cooked food,

    shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of

    the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology,

    ecology, life history, psychology and society." Put

    simply, Mr. Wrangham writes that eating cooked food -

    whether meat or plants or both -made digestion easier,

    and thus our guts could grow smaller. The energy that we

    formerly spent on digestion (and digestion requires far

    more energy than you might imagine) was freed up,

    enabling our brains, which also consume enormous amounts

    of energy, to grow larger. The warmth provided by fire

    enabled us to shed our body hair, so we could run

    farther and hunt more without overheating. Because we

    stopped eating on the spot as we foraged and instead

    gathered around a fire, we had to learn to socialize,

    and our temperaments grew calmer.

    There were other benefits for humanity's ancestors. He

    writes: "The protection fire provided at night enabled

    them to sleep on the ground and lose their climbing

    ability, and females likely began cooking for males,

    whose time was increasingly free to search for more meat

    and honey. While other habilines" - tool-using prehumans

    - "elsewhere in Africa continued for several hundred

    thousand years to eat their food raw, one lucky group

    became Homo erectus - and humanity began."

    You read all this and think: Is it really possible that

    this is an original bit of news? Mr. Wrangham seems as

    surprised as we are. "What is extraordinary about this

    simple claim," he writes, "is that it is new."

    Mr. Wrangham arrives at his theory by first walking us

    through the work of other anthropologists and

    naturalists, including Claude Levi-Strauss and Darwin,

    who did not pay much attention to cooking, assuming that

    humans could have done pretty well without it.

    He then delivers a thorough, delightfully brutal

    takedown of the raw-food movement and its pieties. He

    cites studies showing that a strict raw-foods diet

    cannot guarantee an adequate energy supply, and notes

    that, in one survey, 50 percent of the women on such a

    diet stopped menstruating. There is no way our human

    ancestors survived, much less reproduced, on it. He

    seems pleased to be able to report that raw diets make

    you urinate too often, and cause back and hip problems.

    Even castaways, he writes, have needed to cook their

    food to survive: "I have not been able to find any

    reports of people living long term on raw wild food."

    Thor Heyerdahl, traveling by primitive raft across the

    Pacific, took along a small stove and a cook. Alexander

    Selkirk, the model for Robinson Crusoe, built fires and

    cooked on them.

    Mr. Wrangham also dismisses, for complicated social and

    economic reasons, the popular Man-the-Hunter hypothesis

    about evolution, which posits that meat-eating alone was

    responsible. Meat eating "has had less impact on our

    bodies than cooked food," he writes. "Even vegetarians

    thrive on cooked diets. We are cooks more than


    Among the most provocative passages in "Catching Fire"

    are those that probe the evolution of gender roles.

    Cooking made women more vulnerable, Mr. Wrangham

    ruefully observes, to male authority.

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    by Published on 11th October 2009 02:48 AM

    A treasure trove of damned interesting stuff. Did you know that the world almost ended in 1983, and that we were saved by a Russian soldier who refused to press 'that' button... banana

    by Published on 3rd January 2009 01:23 AM

    Submitted by Frank DeMarco - a thought provoking quote from Dance of a Fallen Monk by George Fowler monk

    "Now I understood for the first time that ...
    by Published on 25th April 2009 07:06 PM

    Interesting article on Darwin's lost theory of love darwin-1

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